BOSTON, Mass. — A Massachusetts man who was convicted in October of providing material support to ISIS, conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and obstruction of justice has been sentenced to 28 years in prison for his crimes.
“Mr. Wright plotted to kill innocent Americans on behalf of ISIS,” Acting United States Attorney William Weinreb said in a statement on Tuesday. “Despite the fact that he was born in Massachusetts, Mr. Wright turned against his country and joined a radical terrorist organization. He became a soldier of ISIS and recruited U.S. citizens to commit attacks within the United States aimed at killing civilians and police officers.”
As previously reported, investigators state that as early as February 2015, David “Dawud” Wright, 28, engaged in discussions with his uncle, Usaamah Rahim, and friend Nicholas Rovinski about ISIS’ call to kill those in the United States who do not ascribe to the Islamic religion. They worked up plans for a “Martyrdom Operations Cell,” and began studying firearms, tranquilizers and secret militias.
Wright also allegedly was in communication with ISIS member Junaid Hussain until he was killed by an airstrike on the “caliphate capital” of Raqqa. Hassain initially communicated with Rahim, who relayed messages to Wright in regard to their plot to kill blogger Pamela Geller after she helped to organize a “Draw Mohammed” cartoon contest.
Wright, Rahim and Rovinski also discussed how to commit general terrorist attacks and researched weapons that could be used to behead their victims. Rovinski, who was soon taken into custody, reportedly continued writing to Wright from behind bars, sharing his thoughts about taking down the U.S. government and killing the kuffar.
In June 2015, Rahim was shot and killed by police in Roslindale after advancing on officers with a machete. Upon learning of the situation, Wright quickly deleted information from his computer and cell phone so that his part in any terrorist plots would not be found out.
However, the FBI says that it had recorded Rahim’s telephone conversation with Wright that day, as Rahim advised that he wanted to kill police, who he considered to be the enemy. Wright agreed and urged his uncle to become a martyr by attacking the “boys in blue.”
Wright was arrested the same day and was indicted, along with Rovinksi, in April 2016. In October, he was convicted by a grand jury.
According to the Boston Globe, Wright told jurors that the pro-ISIS material he shared online was only talk and that he never meant to cause harm to anyone. He said he only pretended to be an ISIS supporter in an effort to gain attention.
“I said a lot of fantastical things about what I intended, where I wanted to go, where I wanted to travel,” he stated. “It was never real for me.”
However, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigators (FBI) believe that Wright genuinely was a danger to the public.
“The spread of the ISIS ideology and it’s savagery against innocents around the world, was found right here at home, by an extremely unpredictable and dangerous person who radicalized to support an imprudent call to jihad,” said Harold Shaw, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston Field Division, following the sentencing.
“Through the dogged efforts of the FBI and our partners within the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Joint Terrorism Task Forces, who tirelessly work day-in and day-out to identify and thwart those who pose a serious threat, we clearly showed Mr. Wright was a soldier of ISIS, and a very real threat to national security and public safety.”
Co-conspirator Rovinski, who pleaded guilty during his trial, is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday.